Attyie (Attie, Akye or Ankye) Lagoon Figures
The statues of the Attye are some of the most ravishing in all of Africa , combining the best features of Baule sculpture with a unique "lagoon" appearance. The bulbous arms and legs, serene face and body shape common to the Attye show definite Baule influence, but there is stronger and bolder execution, daring use of abstraction, and greater volumes. The effect can be downright extraordinary. Having an area about the size of Germany , Côte d'Ivoire is bordered on the south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Liberia and Guinea , to the north by Mali and Burkina Faso , and on the east by Ghana . The Attye are one of the so-called Lagoon people of Cote d’Ivoire . This area is a mixed association of 12 different language groups. Little is known about their art. It is recorded that Christian religion had destroyed most of their sculpture in the nineteenth century. This piece is one of the few that survived.
Arts from the Lagoon area are rare, and difficult to attribute. They are all related but, if studied closely, one may find elements that facilitate identification. From the Attye we find very elegant standing or seated figures holding barrel on the head. Attye style is recognized by the elaborate coiffure elegantly raised, muscular legs and arms and the elongation of their body, and scarifications. Patina varies from darker to lighter with traces of white pigment. The uses of the Attye figures are not clearly known. It seems like these figures had multi-purposes. Their role in the Poro and Lo society is unclear. For some sources Attye figures are most likely the representation of ancestors or the embodied spirit from the other world invoked for they help insure good health, fertility, prosperity, good crops, etc. It is also said that professional healers and diviners use these spirits to ask their assistance when performing their ritual. In the healing and divination process, the roles of these figures were to convey messages to the spirit world. During a consultation to a diviner, the spirit would come out to possess the diviner, causing a trance. The figures help elucidate the mystery and find the solution. Other sources indicate that these figures were occasionally given as prizes to outstanding dancers.
Recommended Reading : See AFRICA THE ART OF A CONTINENT, by Tom Phillips, Prestel. London . Munich . New York , 1999, p.447-448
For pieces of the same style see THE TRIBAL ARTS OF AFRICA, by Jean-Baptiste Bacquart, pp.30, fig. A
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